19 products we’re really diggin’ right now
We’re in the thick of ski season, folks, meaning our crew has been out in the field putting the best gear on Earth to the test. And, among everything we’ve seen, we’ve personally been very impressed with the selection, below. Take a look, perhaps find something—or a few things—you like, and stay tuned for more gear roundups this season because we’re just getting started.
Ranger 98 Ti
Fischer | $650
Our editors have been ripping this ski all across the frontside and even ski-touring on it, too. It’s one heck of a mix of lightweight and powerful. Its milled wood core lightens the load while carbon fiber in the tip adds low-density strengthening. Titanal inserts underfoot up the rigidity and the use of burly beech and lively poplar wood yields top-notch versatility. For when standard “frontside conditions” prevail, it’s hard not to pull this thing off the garage wall, when there are many other options sitting right beside it. As further validation, this ski has earned top marks at our ski tests over the past couple of years—a sign that skiers of all abilities gravitate to it.
Fischer | $160
Fischer’s Profoil climbing skin is designed to have seriously awesome glide characteristics while maintaining ample grip on the uphill. It’s crafted of lightweight plastic and features a fish-scale pattern dubbed Crown Tech, in order to glide faster than traditional skins might. And that glide is very noticeable; you can practically ski downhill unimpeded on these puppies, yet they perform fantastically when you start trucking uphill again. Best part, in our opinion? The Profoil is 100-percent waterproof. Soggy skins add weight on the ascent, as you know. Plus, you don’t even have to hang these up to dry. You stash ‘em immediately in a carrying case (included) and they’ll remain rolled up neatly inside, ready to go for the next mission at a moment’s notice.
Dalbello | $900
Built to crush both the resorts and the backcountry of the world, this bombproof boot from Dalbello has been stunning us all season long. It features Dynalink, a plastic strap affixed near the inner cuff hinge that attaches to a closure buckle. This, in turn, is fastened to the lateral side of the lower shell. So, in other words, it hangs onto your foot, ankle and shin wonderfully well, letting that 130-flex ring true. Last but not least, the walk-mode on this boot is totally dreamy—aided by grip soles that make you feel like you’re in hiking boots.
FuseForm Brigandine Jacket
The North Face | $500
The three-layer FuseForm Brigandine kit has been a favorite of ours for the past two seasons, and we especially dig the latest iteration because together, the jacket and pant are 28 percent and 17 percent lighter, respectively. Don’t mistake lightweight for weak, though. This is TNF’s most technically advanced, waterproof ski apparel. Regarding the jacket, in particular, TNF employs four-way stretch for rockin’ mobility. Abrasion zones (like the shoulder and outside arms) feature reinforced dobby; this reinforcement is seamlessly integrated. Literally… TNF has eliminated seams in these areas, cutting down on places where water can get in, and where heat can get out. Nasty weather? No problem.
Hestra | $185
This thing is so insanely comfortable to wear, it’s just not even fair. A soft yet durable impregnated cowhide exterior provides protection from the elements and an incredibly warm wool terry interior keeps you going strong through most everyday conditions. It’s not the most heavy-duty glove out there, so if you’re frequently skiing in wet conditions (we see you, PNW shredders!) you may consider looking to another Hestra option. But, for all other purposes, this thing is pure style and pure awesomeness—the result of four generations of Swedes working to build a glove that lasts, and lasts, and lasts.
Oakley | $150
The oversized fit of this goggle makes you feel like a fighter jet pilot, zooming through the environment like a true boss. (Bonus: The overall package is plenty large to accommodate folks who wear glasses.) The rimless design is gorgeous; you’ll turn heads everywhere you go. The spherical lens provides optical clarity and stellar peripheral vision, and if you’re rocking a lens of the PRIZM distinction (which is an absolute must, as far as we’re concerned) you’ll enjoy serious contrast and definition in the snow, boosting your confidence out there on the slopes. Lens-swapping is easy, but, the PRIZM lens is so adept in all light conditions that we’d be surprised if you swap your lenses at all. The moisture wicking, triple-layer face foam is crazy comfortable and provides excellent venting as well. We haven’t managed to fog ours up yet. That’s saying something!
Singi Down Jacket
Fjällräven | $600
From the après patio to fun-filled evenings around your favorite ski town, the Singi Down Jacket serves up impeccable, retro style and supreme warmth. Indeed, this piece has been treating us well when the mercury drops to levels that make even the most die-hard skiers shudder. That toasty warmth is thanks in part to 500 Fill Power Down and a spacious fit that allows for layering. The deep hood with faux fur trim keep wind and snow from biting your face, too. Furthermore, Fjällräven’s G-1000 fabric provides awesome durability, plus wind and water-resistant protection. Reinforced shoulders and elbows protect from general wear and tear, and drawcord adjustment at the waist and hem ensure the ideal fit. Also worth noting, this piece features pockets for days.
Pret | $270
New this year for Pret, the Cirque X is crafted with thick polycarbonate panels in impact-prone areas, increasing protection where it matters most. And would you just look at those vents?! They’re huge—perfect for backcountry skiers and warm tempts—adjusted via a a simple switch on top. Fresh air enters via the brim and oversized front gaps, where it warms and is dumped through the rear openings. In other words, it’s an air filter for your head that also keeps you nice and safe. Win win.
POC | $120
Not everyday is negative-a million out, meaning we like a nice light glove every now and then, even if it’s not quite springtime. In these situations, the POC Park Mitten has been a real go-to. Particularly on the skin track, these things really kick ass; they’re breathable, but also come with wrist straps so you can put them on and take them off as you please. On the outside, a waterproof membrane blocks out moisture and keeps your digits comfortable, no matter what.
Salomon | $850
An awesome everyday ski, Salomon’s QST 106 has proved itself all season through a wide variety of conditions. Whether it’s deep powder, wet slush or rock-hard groomers, this tool shreds it all and shreds it well. Its notable performance is much thanks to a practical width profile (140-106-126); skinny enough for the normal days and wide enough for the deep ones. But the tech within is also mighty impressive; carbon fiber, flax and Titanal team up to create a stable but playful ride that results in true on-hill confidence. The ski is also quite light, making for a great touring tool when paired up with the right binding. (Keep reading to find a nice suggestion.)
Guardian MNC 13
Salomon | $379
The Guardian MNC 12 is an ideal match for the aforementioned QST 106. This framed touring binding holds its own on the uphill and the downhill alike—built for skiers who spend a fair amount of time both on the resort and in the backcountry. In terms of functionality, we’ve had no issues whatsoever; switching between touring and alpine mode is a total breeze, even when it’s super snowy and/or icy out. And, while it’s not as light as all the burly tech bindings out there these days, its weight is barely noticeable on the uphill compared to many framed competitors.
QST Pro 120
Salomon | $600
Rounding out the ideal Salomon kit is the QST Pro 120 boot. This might be our favorite product of the ski-binding-boot combo; it’s light, powerful and comfortable all at once and has held up like a boss all winter. The boot’s 120 flex is forgiving enough to pop off booters and not worry about breaking your shins in half, yet stiff enough to rely on when really sending it at full speed. That reliability is furthered via wide straps and buckles that don’t budge one bit—lock ’em in and go. On the inside, the Endofit tongue takes notes from Salomon’s running technology and provides a snug fit that increases comfort and reduces chances of any post-ski pain. And, when you’re touring or strolling around town after skiing, the easy-to-use walk-mode system performs like a dream.
GLCR Ether Down Thermagraph™ Jacket
686 | $240
686 recently made its grand entrance into the ski scene after focusing solely on snowboarding for years, and the brand’s products we’ve tested thus far are super impressive. Exhibit A: this GLCR Ether Down Thermagraph™ Jacket. First and foremost, it’s stylish-as-can-be; rocking a long fit that looks good on and off the hill. Now, to the specs: 20K waterproof rating; taped seams; underarm vents; internal goggle and phone pockets; hand/wrist gaiters; and a helmet-compatible hood are the bees knees. On top of all that, the most impressive aspect of the jacket is its Thermagraph™ insulation system, which places 600 power down fill where your body needs it most, while leaving the warmer parts of your body (like your pits) without that extra bulk. In other words, this thing has braved negative temps like it ain’t no thang.
GLCR Quantum Thermagraph™ Pant
686 | $184
The GLCR Quantum Thermagraph™ Pant boasts the same impressive technology as its brother, the GLCR Ether Down Thermagraph™ Jacket. A 20K waterproof rating fights off the elements, as well as the praised Thermagraph™ insulation system, while a big crotch vent will keep you cool and comfortable—especially when out on the skin track. Other useful features include: an intuitive waist adjustment system; fully taped seams; and adjustable leg gussets you can fit to your boots with ease.
SAXX | $59
A well-rounded ski kit starts with the right baselayers, and SAXX’s Kinetic Tight has proved itself as a real winner this season. Its close-to-skin fit is both warm and comfortable, aided by a Three-D Fit™ with 9-panel construction that hugs your muscles and private parts with excellence. Additionally, they’re made of 90-percent moisture-wicking nylon and 10-percent spandex fabric that work together quite well and are supplemented by anti-microbial technology to keep the stink at bay. Last but not least, the ankle-length design is optimal for ski socks and boots.
NFX2 w/ Lumalens
Dragon | $179
I’ve always loved Dragon’s NFX2 goggle, but this one is really special thanks to its Lumalens tech. New for Dragon this year, Lumalens provides high-definition vision for skiers via increased color, contrast and clarity. It’s the everyday lens that changes with weather conditions and keeps you content no matter what. If you do ever decide to swap out your lens, it’s ridiculously easy via Dragon’s Swiftlock system. Two simple switches on each side of the goggle make the process a total breeze. This goggle is also stylish as hell and fits well with just about any helmet.
“Hand-Dragon” through life while rocking my signature @DragonAlliance x @ChrisBenchetler NFX2 goggle. I’m always humbled to see my artwork come to life, especially when I get to see those goggles on another friendly ripper, such as yourself, if you follow the profile link. – CB. Photo: @BlattPhoto. #DragonNFX2 #FrameOfMind #Takeover
Fall Line Double Ski Bag
Dakine | $103
With frequent travel comes the need for a proper luggage, and for us, that’s the Dakine Fall Line Double Ski Bag. This bad boy can easily fit two pairs of skis up to 190 centimeters long, as well as a whole lot of other gear thanks to a box-like build. Most notable are the two exterior boot pockets that help you avoid the dreaded task of carrying boots through the airport. These designated pockets also keep your boots separate from your skis, so there’s no edge damage when you arrive at your final destination. And, of course, it has rock-solid wheels that help you get from place to place with ease.
Hopper Two 30
YETI | $349
Every seasoned skier knows a proper cooler is the key to a successful day. And whether you’re storing food, beer or both, doing so in YETI’s new Hopper Two 30 is the way to go. Building on the success of its younger brother, The Hopper, this cooler keeps whatever it contains cold for days—literally—and sports a leakproof exterior that prevents any chance of a wet mess. It’s also tough as a rock, so you can take it on the gnarliest of missions and know it’ll hold up just fine. See you later, foam cooler… It’s not us—it’s you.
Adventurer GPS Outdoor Watch
TomTom | $349
Those who love both tech and the outdoors will go nuts over TomTom’s Adventurer GPS Outdoor Watch. It tracks your every move—whether you’re on a quick run or a full-day expedition in the backcountry, helping you improve your health and understand your habits better than ever. And, while there are a ton of good fitness watches out there, this one stands out to us thanks to its ski mode. That’s right—this thing has a specific mode that tracks skiing’s movements to a T. Just a few of the many features it offers: GPS tracker, heart rate monitor, music player and a water-resistant build. It really does it all.
That’s all for now, folks. Stay tuned for more gear reviews as we further test the endless products being offered out there and filter through them all to find the very best.